Baths, Toilets, Sinks & Taps

How to Unblock a Toilet

an image of someone unblocking a toilet

Unblocking a toilet is never an enjoyable task, but when the worst happens, you’ll want to make light work out of a potentially big and unpleasant job. Before you reach for the phone and ring a specialist, try these methods first with our all-encompassing guide on how to unblock a toilet. 

Let’s get started with what you’ll need….  


How to Unblock a Toilet with Baking Soda 

1. Pour Baking Soda 

Baking soda can be used to create a chemical reaction that dislodges smaller clogs and blockages. To begin, pour half a cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl. 

2. Make a Vinegar Solution 

Begin to heat three litres of water in a pan. Before the water starts to boil, add half a cup of vinegar. Once your water has reached boiling point, you can remove the pan from the hob. 

3. Create a Chemical Reaction 

Pour your mixture of vinegar and water down the toilet bowl and close the lid. When the hot vinegar solution hits the baking powder, it causes a chemical reaction that creates lots of foam that can help to dislodge blockages. After 30 minutes, flush the toilet and you’re done!   

Top tip: If your toilet is connected to a septic tank or cesspit, avoid the baking soda method. The chemicals involved can destroy the enzymes that make it work.  


How to Unblock a Toilet with a Plunger 

1. Protect Yourself and the Area 

Unblocking a toilet with a plunger can be a messy job. That’s why it’s important to protect both yourself and the surrounding area. Ensure you’re wearing gloves and old clothes that you don’t mind getting messy.  

2. Close the Flapper 

The first thing you’ll need to do is lift the lid of your toilet tank and close the toilet flapper with your hand. Look out for a circular drain stopper attached to a chain. This is the flapper. Closing it will prevent more water entering the bowl when plunging. 

3. Make Sure you Have the Right Plunger 

When looking to unblock a toilet, it’s important to choose the right plunger. Avoid sink plungers which will likely only move water around, rather than unblock. Instead, choose a plunger with a fold-out rubber flange which creates a secure seal. 

4. Start Plunging 

Plunging uses a push-pull method to create a vacuum that dislodges blockages. Begin by ensuring the plunger covers the hole completely and that it is entirely submerged. You can add extra water from the sink if you need to. Starting slowly at first, push and pull the plunger, pulling up sharply to loosen or dislodge the blockage. As you increase the momentum, you should notice that the water begins to drain. Prepare to allow 15 minutes or more for the blockage to subside. 

5. Check Drainage 

Flush the toilet to check drainage. If you find that your water levels are low, but the blockage remains, just refill the bowl to its normal level and begin plunging again.  


How to Unblock a Toilet U-Bend 

1. Protect Yourself and the Area 

Again, it’s important to protect yourself and the surrounding area when unblocking a toilet U-bend. Wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and invest in some long gloves 

2. Get the Right Tools 

If you suspect the blockage is in the U-bend, you’ll need something a little longer to dislodge the blockage. A toilet auger or ‘plumbing snake’ is a long, snake-like tool designed to manoeuvre through hard-to-reach piping like U-bends.  

3. Use a Toilet Auger 

Put the tip of the auger into the opening of the U-bend. Before pushing it forward through the opening, turn the auger at the same time. When you can only see the handle of the auger, pull it out and repeat the process until the blockage is cleared. 

4. Test Drainage 

When you flush the toilet, the water should go out quickly if the toilet auger has broken up the clog. If the water drains too slowly, go back in with the toilet auger and repeat the process. 

And that’s how to unblock a toilet! If you’re looking for more help & advice for your bathroom, check out our other guides here. 



Writer and expert